Irrigated Cotton

Here in the Brazos Valley, cotton is normally the last crop harvested at the end of the growing season, and this year a different twist from Mother Nature will cause some yields to be lower than normal. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"Our night time temperatures were becoming a big factor because the plant does not have a chance to respirate at night. It basically uses all of its energy up trying to cool itself down, rather than to produce seed and lint."

John Malazzo says that extended the growing season so not only did farmers begin irrigation earlier than ever before, they also irrigated longer than ever before.

"This cotton was just about ready for harvest, as a matter of fact we had just put our first shot of defoliate on this crop here, and the leaves were coming off nicely and then we promptly got 4 days of rain on it."

And timing is everything in most businesses, especially farming.

"This is what we get when we don't have any leaves on top of the cotton plant to protect these half open boles from the rain and the wind."

"Down here we lose weight. Up here we lose the whole boll."

That includes lint and seed.

"We usually wait 'til we're about 75% open bolls. We'll defoliate it. Wait for the other 25% to open, and then harvest it. And this year"

"If you defoliated right before the rain, then it turned out to be the wrong thing. If you were a day late like I was on this crop, then the leaves are actually protecting the top."

Malazzo summed up the year with one simple statement.

"This is a year where we had harvest weather during the growing season, and growing weather during the harvest season."

I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.


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